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Platform work urgently needs EU laws to end modern-day slavery in the digital age &Ds


14 Sep 2021



Speaking ahead of a plenary debate today and a crucial vote this Wednesday, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Socialists and Democrats are calling on the Commission to better protect platform workers. The goal is to improve the working conditions for all digital platform workers, including the genuinely self-employed. Currently, platform workers are not covered by an EU legal instrument, leaving them in a legally precarious situation. As platform workers are often misclassified as self-employed, they have no protection in times of crisis, have to shoulder all the risks, and pay for their own working materials.

The Socialists and Democrats demand that platform workers should be considered as employees, entailing full social and workers’ rights. If the platform companies disagree, it is up to them to prove that no employment relationship exists with the worker and they are dealing with a genuine self-employed person. Already today, one in ten Europeans has performed platform work. The S&Ds call on the Commission to urgently propose EU laws to better protect platform workers.

Elisabetta Gualmini, S&D MEP and negotiator, said:

“It is so easy – with one click on your phone you can have food delivered to your doorstep, a car to take you anywhere or a cleaner to tidy your home. But how do the lives of the people who serve us with this convenience look like behind the app? Uber drivers, Helpling cleaners or Deliveroo cyclists are deprived of fair wages, denied social insurance and declined paid leave. Bogus self-employment leaves these modern day labourers without any income security. Some of the richest companies on the planet outsource their business risk onto the workers and the taxpayer. If Uber drivers do not get any customers, they are stuck with the bill for the fuel. If Deliveroo drivers have a bike accident during work, they will be without sick pay.

“We therefore call on the European Commission to present a legislative proposal on better protecting platform workers by the end of this year.”

Agnes Jongerius, S&D MEP and spokesperson on employment and social affairs, said:

“To change the game of the gig economy, all platform workers must be considered as employees in principle. Our goal is to reverse the burden of proof. According to set criteria, an employment relationship must be assumed to exist with the platform, entailing full social and workers’ rights. Our goal is decent working conditions for all platform workers, including the genuinely self-employed, and to combat bogus self-employment. I am proud that our group managed to include this crucial point in the report, which now has S&D fingerprints all over it.

“It is time to finally strengthen workers’ rights in the digital age. If we don’t step in to protect some of the most vulnerable people in the economy today, we risk precarious work spreading everywhere tomorrow.”

Note to the editor:

Platform workers use an app (such as Uber) or a website (such as Amazon Turk or Helpling) to offer services to customers in exchange for payment. Platform work is currently presented by many platforms as a non-standard form of employment. Therefore, working conditions and social rights of platform workers are not enshrined in standard labour regulation, which leaves many platform workers with less protection than offline workers and creates unfair competition between the gig economy and traditional companies.

The report On fair working conditions, rights and social protection for platform workers - new forms of employment linked to digital development is set to be approved by the full plenary of the European Parliament on Wednesday, 15 September 2021.



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